UAWU strike continues despite no meeting with UCT

The striking UAWU members picketing outside UCT's Bremner building. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The leaders of the striking workers at the University of Cape Town are hopeful that their alliance with students will be beneficial to their demand to be insourced by the University.

Members of University and Allied Workers’ Union (UAWU) have been on strike since the third week of August, even though the university has refused to meet with them as it says that they work for “business entities outside of UCT”. The union had vowed to intensify the strike by getting the students to support the workers.

“Yesterday, we were joined by a number of students and we delivered the memorandum of demands to the university and it was accepted by the vice chancellor,” said UAWU general secretary, Mzomhle Bixa. The memorandum states that the workers earn poor salaries and receive no benefits. According to the union, the striking workers work for companies that offer direct services to UCT and therefore have to be insourced. The companies listed on the memorandum are Xerox, SHAWCO (Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation), UCT GSB t/a Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, UCT Protea Hotel Mowbray, UCT Food and Connect, UCT Bookshop and UCT Food Vendors.

The university has reiterated its stance that they cannot intervene in a labour dispute that does not involve them and that they insourced all of their workers in 2016.

“The university cannot intervene in labour disputes involving workers from entities outside UCT. These entities’ link to UCT is that they provide various services to the university but their workers are not employed by the institution. The claim around the insourcing of these workers is inaccurate. UCT completed the insourcing process in 2016, with approximately 1,400 employees being insourced from six companies,” said UCT spokesperson, Elijah Moholola.

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While addressing the workers outside UCT adminstration building, Bixa said that during the negotiations for insourcing of workers at UCT, the previous vice chancellor, Max Price, had raised issues about some of the companies like G4S, that they are a private entity. “But at the end, UCT insourced the security guards from G4S,” Bixa said.

According to Bixa, UCT unions would be meeting on Thursday and one of the items on their agenda is to look at the university’s response to the strike.

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